SHADOW WARRIORS

THE COVERT WAR IN KOREA

In an engrossing tale of unsung heroes and high-risk missions, military historian Breuer (Feuding Allies, 1995, etc.) penetrates the little-known espionage, propaganda, and guerilla operations of the Korean war. When well-equipped, Soviet trained North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel on June 15, 1950, in what Breuer calls a ``second Pearl Harbor,'' the overmatched South Korean defenders were quickly driven into a small pocket in southeastern Korea called the Pusan Peninsula. There they held fast, with the emergency support of newly arrived (but inexperienced) American troops. The covert war began almost immediately. General Douglas MacArthur's special warfare unit spread disinformation before his surprise landing at Inchon in the enemy rear. Army and CIA units trained many South Koreans and sent them North to spy and to carry out guerrilla operations, often with great success. Yet the North Koreans and their Chinese allies had their covert victories, too. Communist forces often seemed to know when and where the UN forces would attack. Breuer tracks these leaks back to the highly placed British traitors Philby, Burgess, and MacLean, who sent copies of US plans to Moscow. And the Communist propaganda machine lied so effectively about American ``atrocities'' that some countries demanded investigations, while, Breuer reveals, the Communist military tortured and killed POWs (including Americans) and civilians. While China and the Soviet Union were officially neutral in the war's early days, Breuer finds that Chinese and Soviet soldiers and airmen (with their equipment and supplies) were covertly available to the North Koreans, as they were later to the Communists in North Vietnam. Built on personal interviews and sound secondary research, Breuer's account should please both students of modern military history and espionage enthusiasts. (30 photos, maps)

Pub Date: May 17, 1996

ISBN: 0-471-14438-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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